Around nine o'clock on the morning of Thursday, December 11, 2008, the employees of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC began drifting into the midtown Manhattan firm's high-tech offices, where everything was in tones of black and gray, the boss's chosen colors. More than a few were a bit hung over. The night before they had all joined in toasting the holidays at the festive annual Christmas party that their respected and beloved financial icon threw every year at an upscale restaurant.
Despite the after effects of all the drinking and food consumption, everyone was feeling fine emotionally, if not physically. Some strong black coffee or a couple of Tums would take care of their ills. The holidays at Madoff were always a joyous time, a time for celebration, and this holiday season was to be no exception. That morning the employees came to work with visions of their promised year-end bonuses dancing in their heads, and with expectations of the usual splendid Christmas presents dispensed by their munificent boss, Bernie, and his lovely wife, Ruth.
Despite 2008 being in the depths of a recession seemingly on a par with the Great Depression, and with the stock market tanking, generous, wonderful Bernie still promised all of them bountiful bonus money. Two traders alone had brought in some $7 million in profits and were pledged 25 percent of the take.
There also was no reason to doubt that Madoff's gifts would be under the tree. Ruth always knew how to spend money, ...